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Monday/Tuesday, March 1-2, 2004 - Editor: Gloria Lee
Before the beginningless beginning, prior to the appearance of the first Buddha, already its bright and radiant light shone forth. It illuminates heaven and stands as a perfect mirror on earth, embracing and manifesting all things. The sun, moon, stars, and planets, lightning flashes, thunderclaps; everything without exception receives its benevolent influence.
- Daito (1282-1334)
was something in the air
If there was something in the wind
If there was something in the trees or bushes
That could be pronounced and once was overheard by animals,
Let this Sacred Knowledge be returned to us again.
~ Atharva Veda
not the outer entanglements,
Dwell not in the inner void;
Be serene in the oneness of things,
And dualism vanishes by itself.
From: Manual of Zen Buddhism....by: D.T. Suzuki...page...77
Suzuki, c. 1960.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
basic idea of Zen is to come in touch with the inner workings of
our being, and to do so in the most direct way possible, without
resorting to anything external or superadded. Therefore, anything
that has the semblance of an external authority is rejected by
Zen. Absolute faith is placed in a man's own inner being. For
whatever authority there is in Zen, all comes from within. This
is true in the strictest sense of the word. Even the reasoning
faculty is not considered final or absolute. On the contrary, it
hinders the mind from coming into the directest communication
with itself. The intellect accomplishes its mission when it works
as an intermediary, and Zen has nothing to do with the
intermediary except when it desires to communicate itself to
others. For this reason all the scriptures are merely tentative
and provisory; there is in them no finality. The central fact of
life as it is lived is what Zen aims to grasp, and this in the
most direct and most vital manner. Zen professes itself to be the
spirit of Buddhism, but in fact it is the spirit of all religions
and philosophies. When Zen is thoroughly understood, absolute
peace of mind is attained, and a man lives as he ought to live.
What more may we hope?
that as Zen is admittedly a form of mysticism it
cannot claim to be unique in the history of religion. Perhaps so;
but Zen is a mysticism of its own order. It is mystical in the
sense that the sun shines, that the flower blooms, that I hear at
this moment somebody beating the drum in the street. If these are
mystical facts, Zen is brim-full of them. When a Zen master was
once asked what Zen was, he replied, "Your everyday thought". Is
this not plain and straightforward? It has nothing to do with any
sectarian spirit. Christians as well as Buddhists can practise
Zen just as big fish and small fish are both contentedly living
in the same ocean. Zen is the ocean, Zen is the air, Zen is the
mountain, Zen is thunder and lightning, the spring flower, summer
heat, and winter snow; nay, more than that, Zen is the man. With
all the formalities, conventionalisms, and superadditions that
Zen has accumulated in its long history, its central fact is very
much alive. The special merit of Zen lies in this: that we are
still able to see into this ultimate fact without being biased by
Get up from your bed,
go out from your house,
follow the path you know so well,
so well that you now see nothing
and hear nothing
unless something can cry loudly to you,
and for you it seems
no cry is louder than yours
and in your own darkness
cries have gone unheard
as long as you can remember.
These are hard paths we tread
but they are green
and lined with leaf mould
and we must love their contours
as we love the body branching
with its veins and tunnels of dark earth.
I know that sometimes
your body is hard like a stone
on a path that storms break over,
into that something that you think is you,
and you will not move
while the voice all around
tears the air
and fills the sky with jagged light.
But sometimes unawares
those sounds seem to descend
as if kneeling down into you
and you listen strangely caught
as the terrible voice moving closer
and in the silence
Get up, I depend
on you utterly.
everything you need
the moment before
you were born.
David Whyte ~
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God loves all creatures equally and fills them with His being, and we should lovingly meet all creatures the same way....
Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things. Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God.
If I spent enough time with the tiniest of creatures, even a caterpillar, I would never have to prepare a sermon, so full of God is every creature....
If every medium were removed between myself and a wall, then I would be at the wall but not in it. But this is not the case with spiritual things, for with them one thing is always in another. That which receives is the same as that which is received, for it receives nothing other than itself. This is difficult. Whoever understands it has been preached to enough.
Hildegard of Bingen:
There is no creature that does not have a radiance.
Holy persons draw to themselves all that is earthly....
I welcome every creature of the world with grace....
Julian of Norwich:
God's goodness fills all his creatures....
All creatures of God's creation that can suffer pain suffered with him. The sky and the earth failed at the time of Christ's dying because he, too, was a part of nature....
Those who have universal love for all their fellow Christians in God have love towards everything that exists....
Mechtild of Magdelburg
The truly wise person kneels at the feet of creatures, And is not afraid to endure the mockery of others....
Net of Jewels
Ramesh S. Balsekar
Understanding Nature is not an intellectual exercise but a direct
experience in mental silence. Mental silence does not mean keeping
the mind dull or empty. Indeed, wordless contemplation can exist
coincidentally with thinking when such thinking is witnessed without
judgment and therefore without involvement.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thought is absent in seeing things intuitively. When you perceive
directly, there is no thinking. When you think you understand, you
don't. You do not think that you are alive, you know that you are
Q:You Buddhists are too concerned about ants and bugs. A:Buddhists strive to develop a compassion that is undiscriminating and all-embracing. They see the world as a unified whole where each thing and creature has its place and function. They believe that before we destroy or upset nature's delicate balance, we should be very careful. Just look at those cultures where emphasis is on exploiting nature to the full, squeezing every last drop out of it without putting anything back, conquering and subduing it. Nature has revolted. The very air is becoming poisoned, the rivers are polluted and dead, so many beautiful animal species are extinct, the slopes of the mountains are barren and eroded. Even the climate is changing. If people were a little less anxious to crush, destroy and kill, this terrible situation may have not arisen. We should all strive to develop a little more respect for life. And this is what the first precept is saying. http://www.buddhanet.net/ans82.htm
Thich Nhat Hanh
I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect
the lives of people, animals, plants, minerals ...
-from The Five Wonderful Precepts
from The Fruitful Darkness
In zen meditation practice, you face the wall and hope that in this process of yielding you face yourself and realize who and what you really are. The basic impulse in Mahayana Buddhism is proclaimed in the vow to save all beings. The translation of the vow of the bodhisattva that I first heard years ago referred to all "sentient" beings: people and perhaps animals. But lately I have chosen to drop the word sentient from the vow when I share it with others. I no longer think it is relevant....
I have looked out the eyes of rocks and mountains, and although I know the psyche yearns to give the world a soul, I am not totally convinced that there is not a kind of awareness in the mineral and plant world. In any case, I don't forget the advice of Nan Yan Huichung when he said that we should not hinder any being who hears deeply. When I drop into the stream of existence in a finely tuned way in the course of practice or ritual process, I discover how excluding is the worldview of the West, and I do not want to hinder that which hears the subtler voices of the Earth.
I am the dust in the sunlight, I am the ball of the sun . . .
am the mist of morning, the breath of evening . . .
I am the spark in the stone, the gleam of gold in the
metal . . . .
The rose and the nightingale drunk with its fragrance.
am the chain of being, the circle of the spheres,
The scale of creation, the rise and the fall.
I am what is and is not . . .
I am the soul in all.
Quotations from Jalaluddin Rumi
a strange frenzy in my head, of birds flying, each
particle circulating on its own. Is the one I love everywhere?
(The Essential Rumi, p. 4)
I am with you always means when you
look for God, God is in the look of your eyes, in the
thought of looking, nearer to you than your self, or
things that have happened to you. There's no need to go
outside. Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself.
(The Essential Rumi, p. 13)
What do we mean by saying that God is not in heaven? We do not mean that He is not in heaven, but that heaven cannot encompass Him. He encompasses heaven. He has an ineffable connection with heaven just as He has an ineffable connection with you. Everything is in His omnipotent hands; everything is a manifestation of Him and subject to His control. So, He is not outside the heavens and the universe but is not totally inside them either, that is, they do not encompass Him but He encompasses them totally.
asked where God was before the earth, skies, and Divine
Throne existed. We said that the question was invalid
from the outset because God is by definition that which
has no place.
(Signs of the Unseen: The Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi, p. 221)
creatures, day and night, make manifestation of God. Some
of them know what they are doing and are aware of their
manifesting, while others are unaware. However it may be,
God's manifestation is confirmed.
(Signs of the Unseen: The Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi, p. 184)
said, "O Lord, are you close enough for me to
whisper in your ear or so distant that I should
shout?" And God said, "I am behind you, before
you, at your right and your left. O Moses, I am sitting
next to my servant whenever he remembers me, and I am
with him when he calls me."
(Signs of the Unseen: The Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi, Footnote 209, p. 193)
pictured forms are reflections in the water of the
stream; when you rub your eyes, indeed, all are He.
(The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, p. 43)
unique God has manifested His sign in the six directions
to those with illuminated eyes. Whatever animal or plant
they behold, they contemplate the gardens of divine
Beauty. That is why He said to them, Wheresoever
you turn, there is His Face (Koran
(The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, p. 306)
of these are symbols -- I mean that the other world keeps
coming into this world. Like cream hidden in the soul of
milk, No-place keeps coming into place. Like intellect
concealed in blood and skin, the Traceless keeps entering
into traces. And from beyond the intellect, beautiful
Love comes dragging its skirts, a cup of wine in its
hand. And from beyond Love, that indescribable One who
can only be called That
(The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, p. 197)
earth has the external shape of dust, but inside are the
luminous Attributes of God. It's outward has fallen into
war with its inward; its inward is like a pearl and its
outward a stone. Its outward says, "I am this and no
more." Its inward says, "Look well, before and
behind!" Its outward denies, saying, "The
inward is nothing." The inward says, "We will
show you. Wait!"
(The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, p. 21)
The Tao of Heaven operates mysteriously and secretly ; it has no fixed shape; it follows no definite rules; it is so great that you can never come to the end of it, it is so deep that you can never fathom it.
~The Huai Nau Tzu
In Taoism the central idea is relationship. We cannot approach nature as a thing to be mastered but as a partner in a relationship. The goal is to become a natural part of the original order. The way to discover that original order is to turn to nature.
Early Taoist philosophers left the cities to learn from nature and primitive people living in remote mountain villages. They hoped to eventually bring human civilization into the natural order.
In Taoism Nature is taken to be infinitely wise, infinitely complex, and infinitely irrational. One must take a yielding stance and abandon all intellectual preconceptions. The goal is wu wei, doing nothing contrary to nature. Nature does not need to be perfected or improved. It is we who need to change; we need to come into accord.
Taoists rejected all dichotomies, even the most fundamental one of being versus non-being, for both come from the same source, the deep and the profound. The goal of Taoism is to attain that which precedes duality. The only way to discover this original source is to observe nature. During peak experiences in nature, the deep meets the deep.
The Tao is a divine chaos, not a random accident. It is fertile, undifferentiated, and teeming with unrealized creation. It is the mother of everything in nature; it is a great darkness that operates spontaneously to give birth and life to all things.
Taoists seek not to be saved or to win, but rather to return to the original source of the Ten Thousand Things. They see creation not as a single event, but an ongoing process that has no beginning and no end. Its divine play is taking place right here and right now. The wise person becomes like an animal or a child, participating joyfully in the profoundly irrational order. He or she learns to trust the chaos.
"The Sower" by Vincent Van Gogh (image at www.seismographpoetry.com/ poetrymain.html)
The Wish to Be Generous
All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.
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